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HMS Victory
HMS Victory  
Pat,

I have a Pentax digital l-10 camera.  I recently finished building a wood model of HMS Victory.  I want to photograph it so that all of the rope rigging shows up.  Further to this I am testing a software call FluidMask 3 to learn how to delete all background so that I can superimpose the model photo onto a more appropriate background.  So far I have experimented with using a backdrop and lighting it using my workshop light but the detail isn't there.  If I use a tripod is there a setting that can be used that would give me more detail?
I've attached a quick trial photo.  

Thanks,  Ron

Answer
Hello, Ron,

Nice model!

I see in your current picture that all the rigging appears to show up, but the light colored rigging is not very obvious. So I see what the problem is. The other problem is that the sheet you are using has shadows. This will make it difficult to get rid of the background so you can substitute something else.

I am not familiar with the software you mentioned, so I cannot comment on it. I can make some general observations. Usually, to delete the background easily, it needs to be all one color, and I mean practically to the exact shade. You might be better off if you can get some large poster board in a single color (a color NOT in your model, and somewhat different from any color in your model), and use that as a background. You will also need to light it uniformly. And then you need something similar to set the model on. Lighting this may well be more difficult. But work toward getting the background a uniform color without shading or shadows. Then it is relatively easy to take out the background. For your background color, I personally would choose a medium green. There appears to be no green in the model. If that doesn't work with a global replace color, try a different color background. Sometimes if the background color is the same as a color in the object, then when you do a global replace, it will also be affected. Once you have the image, the way I do it in Paint Shop Pro is I convert the entire background to black (0,0,0) and then I can make the background transparent. Then I can place it over any image I want.

People pay lots of money for fancy lights they can use in situations like these.

Without this kind of background, you can still delete it in a program, but it will be much more tedious and take a lot longer. But it can be done. I've done it. It's a pain.

Your camera settings, how you use flash, and so forth, won't have a bearing on the problem if deleting the background. The image you showed me is properly lit. That's the main thing you have to concentrate on with this issue.

I hope this helps.

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Pat G

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I can answer questions about the artistic aspects of photography, and tricks for shooting landscape, scenic, macro, and animal photography. I am familiar with Pentax SLR cameras, both film and digital. I have also done work in urban photography and creative photography, and I am familiar with creative uses of filters and lenses. I am familiar with composition and color theory, and know how to make use of light. I can answer questions about things like lightning photography and moon photography. I spend time studying the techniques of the well known photographers. I work exclusively in color. Although I travel anywhere and everywhere in pursuit of landscape and scenic photography, my main area of expertise is the American southwest, and I am familiar with many scenic areas. I also have familiarity with the plants of the Sonoran Desert, having studied not only their appearance but also their uses, including ethnobotany. See my educational credentials for other art that I do.

Experience

I have spent the last ten years as a semi-professional photographer, selling my work on the internet, and having won international honors. The gallery of my most recent work, where I usually post frequently is http://patgoltz.deviantart.com/ I will take questions about how I did various photographs.

Education/Credentials
The first prize I won for my art was when I was in third grade. I have a bachelor's degree in art from Ohio Dominican University, where I learned mainly ceramics and glaze calculation. I have also done various kinds of fiber arts. In addition, I do digital landscapes, abstracts, and fractal art.

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